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Dec 15, 2016

Significant changes to paid leave requirements in Spokane Washington

Leave Laws 

As promised, Spokane’s City Council passed an amended Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (ESSL) that contains a number of sweeping changes, including a sunset provision and a change in the definition of which employers are covered by ESSL.

Here are the key changes that employers should be aware of:

  • Sunset provision: ESSL will automatically sunset on December 31, 2017, or the date the State of Washington implements Initiative 1433, whichever occurs later. I-1433 contains a statewide paid leave requirement; see our alert on this new law for more information.
  • Enforcement: For 2017, the City will focus its enforcement efforts on informing employers and employees of their rights and responsibilities under ESSL.
  • Covered employers: Only private employers that employ individuals in the City and have a permanent physical location in the Spokane City limits will now have to comply. This means that employers with physical locations outside of Spokane don’t have to worry about ESSL.
  • Eligible employees: Employees must still work 240 hours or more in the City limits in a year to be eligible, but now they must also be employed by an employer with a permanent physical location in the City.
  • Employer notice requirements: Unfortunately, the Ordinance now requires employers to notify employees of their leave balance and the amount of leave used each time wages are paid. Employers who don’t currently provide this information on pay stubs will either have to start or figure out an alternate method for complying such as having the information available online.
  • Employee notice of need for ESSL: ESSL must be provided when it’s requested by the employee, but employees should provide a reasonable estimate of how much time is needed when it’s possible to do so.
  • Exempt employees: Exempt employees are not entitled to accrue paid leave for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.
  • Minimum increments of ESSL: Employees must be allowed to use ESSL in as little as one-hour increments.

Tips: If you don’t have a permanent physical location in the City of Spokane, you no longer have to worry about complying with ESSL. For everyone else, it’s important to make sure you still adjust your policies to comply with the changes in the Ordinance if necessary. Please contact your Vigilant employment attorney for resources and assistance to help you comply with the amended law.

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